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not bad, but could have been (a lot) better - 75%

Riven, June 3rd, 2004

So, finally a DVD from Slayer...

Let's begin with the advantages: The quality is awesome. The guitars sound extremely heavy and sharp, the bass is audiable, drums are also very well. All together, the istruments sound brilliant. Take Raining Blood and its e-power chord interlude - its just crushing! Or War Ensemble, which - when it comes to the music - sounds better then on SITA. The visual quality is also professional - but that's no surprise.

The setlist is very good - contains some better songs from GHUA (Disciple destroys live!), a few songs from their more recent albums (although I would love to hear more of Divine Intervention than just Dittohead... it's a good song, but what about Serenity in murder for example?) and ofcourse their all-time classics - check the discography and you will know. As I said - I like this setting, but there are some songs that could be great here: Spirit in black, Silent Scream, Kill Again or Black Magic for instance...

Slayer's on-stage appearance is very good. They don't jump all around but they don't need to - it's their music that does it all. Kerry may look a bit funny banging his bald head though ;). Tom rerely introduces upcoming tracks and speaks very little, but it's Slayer - they simply go there to play the music - not to have a conversation. So that's good.

So what about the drawbacks? Well, first of all - Tom's voice... I know that getting older cannot be avoided, but on this release he sounds particulary ..tired, not old! Ofcourse, you cannot overlook the enormous changes in his voice as he got older, but it's normal. In this case he screams as if it was very tough thing to do - I'm not saying that it's easy, no! But compare this to their older live recordings. On the other hand - he still sounds good in many songs. His much lower voice fits to the newer songs, but also Dead Skin Mask or Die by the sword sound ok. Im not expecting him to scream like he used to in Angel of death (he actually does it quite good on this one, even though its obviously not that famous high-pitched scream), but what about War Ensemble? I hope his voice improves on the new album!

But frankly that's nothing we can blame Slayer for... They still rock and kick ass. So why 75, not 85? Well, I don't really like the "too professional" production of the dvd. Ofcourse, it sounds great, but you can hardly hear any audience - you cannot see them too often either! That's quite disappointing, because Slayer is well known of the moshpits during their gigs. Take Sepultura's Under Siege - moshing, chanting with the band or the crowd singing the lyrics can be heard very good while the quality remains perfect!

As I said before - the sound quality is awesome, but there's the same problem that the Decade of Agression had - Jeff's guitar is too silent! It's not that you can't hear him - you can perfectly capture his sound, but I think that it should be more balanced. At least its not like on DoA, where Kerry dominated the whole thing. On the other hand, despite being a better guitarist (imo), Jeff plays his solos less accurately. If it was some kind of improvisation - it would be great - but how can we call Slayer's solos improvisation :P? (there are some good though). For instance - Seasons in the abyss has one of the best solos and - ofcourse - Jeff plays it like all their up-the-neck-and-down leads. No original melody, just plain chromatic ride...

There is also the (in)famous Fans rule section... Well I have some (very) mixed feelings about that. I liked the interviews, the moshing scenes (something which the actual video lacked of) and the general idea, but those fans are (mainly) - idiots. For example that fat teenager that screams "slaaayerr" at the end: "you know...stuff... you know...well..you know..stuff"... O_o. Anyway - this could have been a lot better. I would prefer to see some backstage stuff, more interviews - maybe something more about the gig, the instruments - etc...

If you are a Slayer fan - get it. If you're not...get it also - it sounds great and can be a nice show to watch. But don't expect to get the atmosphere of a real concert. Not here...